I WAS working from home on Wednesday, November 12th, when around 12:45pm I heard a commotion right under my street-facing window, across from The Cornish School on Roy street. I looked out and saw what appeared to be a police SUV with flashing lights pulling over a black Porsche, in front of my building. I instinctively began recording the interaction, anticipating misconduct on the part of the officers. Two #LEO’s, who I later learned were federal agents, approached the suspect’s car. They told the suspect to keep his hands in plain sight and asked if he had a weapon. Next the two agents, who were in plain clothes but identified themselves, had their badges hanging around their necks and firearms visible on their utility belts, asked the suspect to step out of his car and calmly walked him toward their silver SUV.
At this point one agent informed the suspect that there was a warrant for his arrest, showed him the document, and began to make the arrest. To me, the suspect seemed a bit dazed and out of it from the very start, and once he saw the warrant and handcuffs, the suspect began to act highly erratically (as seen in the video below). He began screaming that he is a German diplomat and has diplomatic immunity, clearly resisting arrest, flailing on the ground, pushing the agents away and yelling incoherent phrases.
At this point one agent brought the suspect to the ground while the other agent walked to the back of the SUV, opened the trunk, found a container of pepper spray, walked back to the restrained and thrashing suspect, and sprayed the top of the suspect’s head for less than half-a-second. From my vantage point the spray barely made contact with the suspect, and was just enough to subdue him. The suspect was non-compliant the entire time, not once were his hands raised, and he was irate that the federal agents dared to arrest him.
During this struggle the agent conducting the arrest noticed he was being filmed by me and other folks on the street. The agent looked at me and said “please call the police instead of recording this”. I called the police and shortly nearly a dozen Seattle Police Department cruisers arrived on the scene. The #SPD seemed to support the federal agents and did not intervene with additional force. At this point the suspect was in the back of the SUV, his window was immediately opened for fresh air, and he was reassured by the #LEA’s that the paramedics were on their way to help with any pain he might have from the pepper spray. Once things were under control the federal agent who made the arrest thanked me for calling the #police, politely asked if he could have my information in case a witness is needed, and shook my hand. The agent, who was not white, also shared his frustration with me that when he first yelled for passersby to call the police instead of recording the arrest he was met with derision.
Incidentally, this entire event took place under a #BlackLivesMatter banner that I hung outside of my window, overlooking the street. And trust, I was well aware of my #whiteprivilege while intervening.
I don’t know if the suspect actually was a German diplomat, whether he truly had diplomatic immunity, or exactly how diplomatic immunity works. I don’t know if this man was a criminal, a threat to society or simply overstayed his VISA. I hope the man arrested will be justly represented in court, and judging by his Porche, he has the resources for effective legal representation.
I do know that #TerenceCrutcher will not have his day in court. Neither will #MichaelBrown. #DontreHamilton was not just pepper sprayed. #EricGarner was not whisked away in handcuffs, sitting in the back of an SUV. #FreddieGray was not assured that paramedics were on their way to give him assistance before leaving the scene of the arrest. #PhilandoCastile was not shown a warrant for his arrest. The scuffle with #KeithLamontScott did not end with him angrily yelling out the back of a squad car that he can’t be arrested.
I know that there will not be an autopsy or toxicology report in this case. And I know that the video I took today has a different ending than the one of #SandraBland.
The video of this incident can be seen here: